A Prayer of Freedom
18th July 2017 • Illuminations on Bhakti
HH Candramauli Maharaj in a lecture on Bg. 8.1 on May 12th 2014 in New Santipur, Croatia
om namo bhagavate narasimhaya
namas tejas-tejase avir-avirbhava
vajra-nakha vajra-damshtra karmashayan
randhaya randhaya tamo grasa grasa om svaha
abhayam abhayam atmani bhuyishtha om ksraum
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nrisimhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possesses nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demon-like desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 5.18.8)
This is a very powerful and beautiful heartfelt prayer by Prahlada Maharaja. It is the prayer of completely being free of all effects of material desires.
Prahlad Maharaj is offering his beautiful respects to the Lord and he is glorifying the Lord as being the source of all power. He says: “You have appeared in this world, but now appear in our hearts.“ This is a personal prayer, yet it is a prayer for everyone. “And destroy those demoniac desires that keep us living in this material world.” And what are they? The desires to enjoy matter. And then he goes on to say: “And give us fearlessness.“ Now, if we look at the benedictions that the Lord can give, that is one of the most glorious and highest benedictions you can receive – fearlessness. Why? Because this whole material world is based on the principle of fear. Everyone lives in fear, even Lord Indra who is the king of heaven. He is afraid that his kingdom is going to be taken away by someone who is performing great austerities. When Visvamitra Muni was performing great austerities, it looked like he was becoming so powerful that he was going to take over the position of Indra. So Indra was worried about his position. That is fear, fear of losing. And many people have fear of not gaining. They work so hard to gain something. First they want to find a perfect partner in life. A person wants to gain some material wealth. People are afraid of getting sick. So much fear. And then the ultimate fear, Shakespeare said, “there’s the rub” – time to leave. So this world is a place of fear. Prahlad Maharaj, who is in knowledge, he knows, we cannot overcome this fear by ourselves. It is not possible. But we can be granted fearlessness. Srila Prabhupada’s parents gave him the name Abhay. Abhay Caranaravinda, actually. Abhay means without fear, and Caranaravinda means lotus feet – one who fearlessly takes shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet. So there is no fear at the Lord’s lotus feet because the Lord is transcendental to everything in this material world. So that is the place of fearlessness. But the fear of taking shelter of Krsna’s lotus feet is something we have to overcome. We are afraid to surrender. Therefore in order to somehow or another come to that point of surrender, we need mercy. Therefore, this prayer gives us that mercy that helps us to come to the point of surrender. “Please grant me the fearlessness knowing that there is nothing in this material world that is for my benefit.”
One of the nine processes of devotional service is vandanam – to offer beautiful prayers to the Lord. Some people offer prayers to the Lord: “My dear Lord, can you give me something material.” These are not prayers, these are purchases – it’s like a business deal. You offer God a prayer – money, and in exchange God gives you what you desire or what you ask for. That is not a genuine prayer, it is like when you go shopping. You need to buy an item, so you bring some money, some Euros. And you purchase the item with the Euros and then you receive the item. So people use prayer to purchase their material desires knowing that God is the source of everything and that He is all powerful. Therefore they pray for that. But that is not a real prayer. Real prayer is what is beneficial for my ultimate happiness. Prabhupada speaks of sreyas and preyas. Preyas means immediate satisfaction, sreyas means ultimate good. So those prayers should be for the ultimate good. What is our ultimate good? To become Krishna conscious. So this is a beautiful prayer, and therefore Prabhupada’s last line in the purport is so wonderful: Any devotee aspiring to be free from material desires – he is saying any devote aspiring, it means you should do it, you should aspire – should offer his respectful prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva, as Prahlada Maharaja did in this verse. It is a prayer. It is prayer of freedom.